Sunday, June 06, 2010

Matt MacKenzie / RD / Calgary WHL

Matt MacKenzie / Calgary Hitmen WHL

D-R / 6-1.0, 191 / 15-Oct-91

Skating: 55 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 70 / Compete: 65 / Toughness: 55

Strengths: Excellent hockey sense. Plays a complete two-way game. Solid puck skills.

Weaknesses: Skating is decent - but you wish it was better for an average sized d-man. Average size. Might not be a lot of upside - what you see is what you get.


Does so many things well, but isn't flashy. Combine that with the fact that his sophomore season was a huge disappointment for scouts, and it's easy to overlook this guy. If you're worried about the slow development, consider his role on the Hitmen for the last two seasons - they've had a deep, veteran-laden defensive corps the previous two seasons. It wasn't until this season that he even really had much opportunity to get top-four or special teams minutes.

Raw offensive skills that we saw in his first two seasons finally started to come together this year. Moves the puck well and can run the power play. Has a hard shot from the point, but accuracy isn't great - tends to use it to generate rebounds rather than try to hit the corners to beat the goaltender.

Plus skater with decent footspeed, but you wish he were just a bit faster given the offensive style he plays. That said, there's nothing about his stride that is a red flag - backward stride, pivots, overall quickness is all at least a bit above average.

Defensive zone play improved greatly this season. Thinks the game well. Makes the right plays in all three zones. Has a knack for keeping opponents to the outside and filling the seams. Also picked up the physical play, but he's probably not going to be much of a banger in the NHL. However, he has good strength and should be able to hold his own in battles for the puck at the next level.

Summary: Western based scouts are probably underrating this guy a bit since they've seen so much of him in the last three seasons. But his tremendous play during the post season was a reminder of why scouts were so excited about this guy back when he was 16. Safe bet to be a solid 2nd or 3rd pairing guy who can also be a 2nd unit power play regular. The hockey sense just makes him such a safe pick.

That and there is a thought in the back of my brain that he reminds me just a tiny bit of Mike Green at the same age. So I've got a little gut feel that there could be some surprise upside here. I wouldn't hesitate spending a pick in the 20-30 range on this guy, but I might be the only one who likes this guy that much.

Draft Day: Everyone thinks he's going to go right in the middle of the 2nd round, but given how good he was in the playoffs I won't be surprised if he sneaks into the back of the 1st. But 30-45 seems most likely to me.

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